Jennifer Benson: Senate’s climate change proposal a good start

Published: 2/11/2020 5:15:20 PM

The Massachusetts Senate’s recent passing of a climate change proposal aimed at bringing our state to net-zero by 2050 is elevating the important question of how our state will tackle the climate crisis (“Senate agrees to sharp shift in state climate policies,” Jan. 31).

We need a bold vision for a cleaner and more sustainable commonwealth that harnesses the power of renewable energy to mitigate the effects of climate change, create a safer and more equitable future for our communities and strengthen our economy.

I applaud the Senate for sparking such a critical discussion. As someone who has spent 11 years in the Massachusetts Legislature and now leads a coalition of progressive business leaders from across the state, I know firsthand that policy is most effective when it’s focused, actionable and built through a transparent and collaborative process that brings everyone, including the business community, to the table.

The health of our environment and strength of our economy are closely intertwined. Over the past decade, our investments in the clean energy sector have created more than 110,000 jobs, and by pursuing innovative solutions in solar, wind and battery storage to meet our goal of net-zero by 2050, we could continue that growth and make the commonwealth a global hub of clean energy innovation.

Investing in an updated and cleaner public transit system, doubling down on efficiency programs that will save renters and homeowners on their energy bills, and holding businesses accountable for their emissions will make Massachusetts a better place to live and to work.

But without a comprehensive plan that prescribes a thoughtful strategy to reach our goals, we’re not going to get there.

We are already feeling the impacts of our changing climate, from extreme weather events, warming waters, or losses in biodiversity, and it is time to act. Let’s continue the conversation ignited by the Senate’s proposal, and commit to embracing bold policy ideas that have tangible action plans to address the climate crisis and invigorate our economy.

Jennifer Benson is president of the Alliance for Business Leadership. Benson served as state representative for Massachusetts 37th Middlesex District from 2009 to 2020.

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